Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Committing to Truth by Following the Law

I believe President Obama when he says "my general orientation is to say let's get it right moving forward" in exactly the degree that I believe the sincerity of any common criminal or Wall Street grifter who says that as a way of evading accountability. But as an approach to addressing the crimes and abuses of the previous administration, it simply will not do. Not even close.

Jonathan Turley enters this video clip at about 2:30 to say exactly what needs to be said and outline exactly what needs to be done: follow the law.

"It's not up to Obama" says Turley -- exactly so. Despite the strange way this matter is framed, we don't live under a king who sets the law according to his whimsy. That view of executive authority is the problem, not the solution. We have written laws, and the choice to ignore them is the choice to embrace the crimes of the past and invite graver crimes in the future.

The prosecution needs to happen under the strictest terms of due process: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Addington, Yoo and the rest deserve the rights they brazenly denied others. To the maximum extent possible, it has to be divorced from politics and carried out by professional investigators and prosecutors. The suggestion of a Congressional "Truth Commission" is insane. Putting this in the hands of the Congress invites politics in its worst sense -- points-scoring, grandstanding, name-calling, and all the familiar rest. We have professionals in the Justice Department precisely to avoid this sort of cheapening spectacle.

If President Obama wishes to ignore the law on these matters, or as some of his more unquestioning supporters might phrase it, disallow his policy agenda from being sidetracked by it, the proper way to do so is to issue pardons. Until and unless he issues pardons or follows the law, President Obama will be "looking forward" to his own complicity in the ugliest abuses of the Bush-Cheney junta.

The USA faces major problems, this being only one. But this is on that list. The importance of everything else facing us constitutes more reason to put this matter in the hands of professionals and remove it from the realm of day-to-day politics.

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